Best Chef Knives on the Market
The best chef knife is probably the most versatile knife in the kitchen. Because of its high use you should chose carefully before you buy one. There are two major types of knives, European and Japanese. In choosing one you have to take into account a few factors: the process of production, the materials used, the sharpening angle and the characteristics of the two different styles.
Top 3 overall best chef knives
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#2 Shun Premier Chef’s Knife
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# 3 Shun Classic Chef’s Knife
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About the best chef knives
There are four major types of materials used in the production of knives.
1. Carbon steel
Carbon steel is an alloy between iron and a concentration of carbon ranged between 0.12–2.0%. Usually a high grade chef’s knife blade contains around !% carbon in order to achieve a long lasting, sharp edge. Carbon steel blades are easy to sharpen and hold the edge for an extended period of time. The only issue is that a high level of care is needed as carbon steel can rust and stain. With a carbon steel knife you have to properly clean and lubricate the blade. If used excessively some chefs rest their knives for 24 hours in order for the patina to be restored and thus no metallic color infuses from the knife to the ingredients.
2. Stainless Steel
A stainless steel blade is easy to maintain but not as sharp as carbon steel. It is resistant to rust, stains and corrosion but looses sharpness much easier. Top quality stainless steel blades are produced in Japan with sharpness equivalent or even higher to carbon steel. A stainless steel knife is recommended for a less experienced chef as it requires less care.
3. Laminated Blades
Folding different types of steel together craft a laminated blade. By layering softer steel inside a hard steel cover you get lightness for the blade and a long lasting edge.
4. Ceramic Blades
Ceramic blades hold sharpness the most but chip easily and are prone to breaking if dropped on a hard surface. As they are made from carbon, chemical reaction between the blade and ingredients doesn’t take place. In this case carbon blades are very good for cutting vegetables and fruit.
European vs. Japanese Edge Angle; 20-22° vs. 15-18°
Because of its sharpness and lightweight, the Japanese chef’s knife has increased its popularity between western chefs. To achieve such a sharp, thin and lightweight knife the hardness of the steel used is essential. Sometimes reaching values of over 60 HRC the steel permits for a sharper edge angel then European knives. Ranging between 15-18° compared to 20-22° the higher sharpness blade is optimal for vegetable cutting, dicing and slicing. So European and Japanese knives are pretty different in their physical characteristics and process of production. The best for you is the one that feels best in your hand and matches the characteristics of your cooking style.
The characteristics of the two different styles are determined by the structure of the knife.
– Have a raised handle in order for your knuckles to avoid touching the cutting surface
– Generally made of hard steel, hot-forged or stamped, thicker and heavier then Japanese knives
– Between the blade and the handle, a European knife has a bolster that adds weight for better balance
– A quality knives blade extends into the handle
Because of these characteristics the European chefs knife is suitable for cutting all foods. As it’s thicker and has added weight it is also good at chopping tougher ingredients and small bones
– Have a thinner blade and made of hard steel but lighter weight overall
– Don’t have a bolster. In this case the wider end of the blade comes to a sharp edge
– A thinner blade is prone to nicks
Japanese style chefs knives have a thinner blade and are lighter thus very good at cutting vegetables. Avoid cutting hard ingredients as it can make nicks in your blades edge!
Handles are made out of wood, steel or composite materials. In general a high-grade finish to the handle is a indicator of a quality knife.
Size should be taken into account as chef’s knives vary from 12 to 8 inch. A longer knife is most used in professional kitchens and a shorter one is probably best for beginners
Budget should not be your biggest worry as your chef’s knife will be the most used item in your kitchen.
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